Ontario. Bureau of Industries.

Annual report of the Bureau of Industries for the Province of ..., Volumes 15-16 online

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New York Regiment were a large number of Scottish soldiers, most of
them protestant but some catholics. The former settled on the St.
Lawrence in the counties of Stormont and Dundas ; the catholics made
A small settlement Jn Glengarry. Soon after came a large accession to
their numbers, the Glengarrv Fencibles with their gallant and devoted
leader. Father Macdonell, afterwards the first Roman Catholic Bishop
of Upper Canada. The story of Bishop Macdonell and his Highlanders
is full of interest. Bom in 1762, in Invemesshire. he was educated
for the priesthood. He went back to minister to his own people and
found them in dire distress because of their small holdings being
turned into sheep walks. He arranged with Glasgow manufac-
turers for their employment and came down from the Highlands with
700 or 800 stalwart laborers. Soon after occurred the French revolu-



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130 ONTARIO BUREAU OF INDUSTRIES.



tionary troubles, and a stagnation followed in the great work centres
of England and Scotland. Father Macdonell then formed his followers-
into a catholic regiment, of which he became chaplain, and their ser-
vices were oflFered to their country. They saw service in the Channel
Islands and in Ireland. When peace came the Glengarry Fencibles-
were disbanded. Previous to this bands of Highlanders had left for
America at various times, one settlement being made in South Carolina,,
another in Prince Edward Island, and in 1773 another band had gone,
as already stated, to the Mohawk Valley at the request of Sir Wm.
Johnson, and at the close of the revolutionary war had been settled
along the St. Lawrence. Father Macdonell naturally looked across-
the sea for a future home for his flock, and, after many difficulties that
we have not time to mention here, we find these fighting Highlanders-
located on grants of land in Glengarry County. Canada owes a great
debt to the Highlanders of the St. Lawrence, both protestant and
catholic. They were born fighters, and in the war of 1812 they all
stood true to their old reputation of fighting to the last for the honor
of the mother land. One has only to go over the catalogue of this
Historical Exhibition to see what her Scottish pioneers did to preserve
and to build up our country. If, then, you look over the history, of our
early lumbering industry and the construction of our rfiilroads and
canals, you will find that they were also great in peace and commerce
as they w^ere great in war and conquest. There is plenty of romance
still to be written, and " Spanish John " is not the only book that
could tell a story that would interest Canadians and give us an increas-
ing love of our Dominion.

The descendants of the Lowlanders and of the Highlanders in
Ontario are in comfortable circumstances, and it is difficult for us to
realize with what sorrow and regiet they took a tearful farewell of
hill and dale and watched the last line of old Scotland fade away^
even though they may have felt that they were being driven from
home — driven it may have been, but it was from home. We can per-
haps catch some of their spirit and their feeling if we recall the old
Canadian boat song that they sang in Gaelic on the St. Lawrence.



CANADIAN BOAT SONG.*

Listen to me, as when you heard our father,
Sing long ago, the song of other shores ;

Listen to me, and then in chorus gather,
All your deep voices as ye pull your oars ;

Fair these broad meads — those hoary woods are grand ;

But we are exiles from our fathers' land.

From the lone sheiling of the misty island
Mountains divide us, and a waste of seas ;

Tet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland
And we, in dreams, behold the Hebrides.



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THE ROMANCE OF ONTARIO. 131



We ne'er shall tread the fancy-haunted valley,
Where, 'twixt the dark hills, creeps the small clear stream,

In arms around the patriarch banner rally,
Nor see the moon on royal tombstones ^leam.

When the bold kindred, in the time long vanished,

Conquered the soil and fortified the keep.
No seer foretold the children should be banished,

That a degenerate lord might boast his sheep.

Come, foreign raid ! let discord burst in slaughter,
Oh, then, for clansmen true, and keen claymore !

The hearts that would have given their blood like water,
Beat heavily beyond the Atlantic's roar.

Fair these broad meads— those hoary woods are grand ;

But we are exiles from our fathers' land.

They loved their fathers' land and they sang in their sorrow ;
their grandchildren love this province but their love has not yet
blossomed into song.

In recalling the heroes of early days in Upper Canada let us give
full praise to men like Stewart and Langhorn, Losee and Dunham,
McDowall and Macdonell, who traversed the scattered settlements of
this province afoot or on horseback, in dugout or in the birchbark, and
who carried peace and happiness into the homes of the early settlers.
Surely in the lives of such men were the highest and truest elements
of romance, and I can well believe that, actuated as they were by the
same fidelity to their work as were their predecessors the Jesuit
Fathers, they labored and- lived free from the cares and worries of
theological disputations. It is said that when Bishop Mcwsdonell
received visitors of state at Kingston the wife of one of the Protestant
ministers did the honors of his house on more than one occasion.

Let me give you just one glimpse of early religious conditions
in 1845. There were many vacancies in Upper Canada, men were
asked for. The Church of Scotland, among other churches, was trying
to meet the demand. A deputation was sent out to visit the parishes.
On their return Rev. Norman McLeod gave this picture of the con-
ditions among the Scottish Presbyterians :

** If I could just form a proper picture of one of these churches, it would be
more eloquent than ten thousand speeches about vacancies. Suppose that, after a
long journey, you come to a house built in some green nook, singled out from the
surrounding wilderness ; the people gradually collect before the door, some from

*This translation of the Gaelic Canadian Boat Song was made by the Earl of
Eglinton and appeared in Tail's Magazine^ June, 1849. It was copied from that
magazine into *' The Raid of Albyn " by W. D. Campbell, pub. Edinburgh in 1854.
I have been enabled to reproduce it hero through the kindness of Mr. Angus Mc-
Murchy, Toronto When the deputation from the Church of Scotland returned in
1845 and made a report on their visit to Canada, Rev. Norman McLeod quoted the
second verse as follows :

** From the dim sheiling on the misty island.

Mountains divide us, and a world of seas,
But still our hearts are true, our hearts are Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides."



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l:i2 ONTARIO BUREAU OF INDUSTRIES.



the neighboring woods, some from the distant hamlets, and some have, from an
early hour, been in their waggons, trudging along through heavy swamps. They
are all assembled, you enter, and at a single glance from the pulpit you are sensible
that you are addressing fellow countrymen ; the psalm is given out, you hear
Bangor or old Dundee sung, you feel a thrill as each joins his homely voice to the
plaintive measure, and then you think yourself in a Highland glen. You preach,
you rebuke, you exhort, you admonish, you comfort, and then quickly comes the
hour that you must part, the time when is heard the solemn amen ; andlthe thought
strikes you that the church door will not be opened again for many a Sabbath — that
the autumn leaves may fall and rustle at its threshold — that the snow of winter
may wreathe itself there— but no passing foot will clear it away. When you see
that, oh, it is then that you fully know what a vacancy is. "*

I have not time to go fully into the story of the coming of the
Six Nation Indians. They had offered the German refugees in Lon-
don a home in their Mohawk country. They in turn now needed a
home for themselves. When Governor Haldimand sent the little
band of surveyors and loyalists up the St. Lawrence to spy out the
land, Brant and some companions came with them. Upon the report
of these prospectors the loyal Indians followed. They divided, part
remaining on the Bay of Quinte and part going to the Grand River,
where their descendants live to-day. Is there not some suggestion of
romance in seeing the chiefs of these two sections meeting, at this
exhibition 115 years ^ater, with the descendants of their fellow-refugees
and bringing together for the first time in a century the divided Queen
Anne communion plate that represents so much to them, doubly dear
because it was the gift of one of Britain's Queens, the great mother of
the red man as well as of the white ?

The next settlement that I come to in order of time is that which
we call the Talbot Settlement. Two Irish lads had been aides to the
Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at Dublin. They were boys together, Tom
Talbot and Arthur Wellesley by name. We can picture to ourselves
how in years long after (1851) Lord Wellington and Colonel Talbot
shook hands and sat down to talk of olden times. I wonder whether
the story of Waterloo,or of Lundy's Lane, or the backwoods tales of Up-
per Canada, or the youthful pranks in which they were associated came
most frequently to the fore. The reproduction of an evening with
Wellington and Talbot fifty years ago would be rare reading for Can-
adians and Britishers to-day. There was no phonograph — perhaps
some Canadian writer gifted with a vivid imagination will some day
meet our desires. Would there not be some romance in it ? Talbot
had been Private Secretary to Governor Simcoe in Upper Canada from
1792 to 1794. In 1803, nearly 10 years after his return, he applied for a
grant of land. Simcoe supported the application. 5,000 acres were
given him, with an additional 150 for every 50 acres located. Some
say he had been disappointed in love and came back to Canada as a
consequence. To those who have once felt the allurement of the wild
woods no such reason seems necessary. Fort Talbot overlooking Lake

f*^:' *Report of the proceedings of a public meeting held at Edinburgh, 10th
i^ovember, 1845.



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THE ROMANCE OF ONTARIO. 133



Erie in Dunwich Township became his seat of government, and such a
government it was ! His manner was brusque and even irritating but
his word was as good as his bond. He had his townships surveyed and
his roads laid out, the principal one, Talbot Road, or Street, still bear-
ing his name. His mode of registration was simple in the extreme
— he wrote the name of the holder of each lot upon his plan ; when a
transfer was made the old name was erased and that of the new
owner inscribed. He was a dictator in his settlement, which extended
over Dunwich, Yarmouth, Aldborough, Malahide and Bay ham, and even
as far as Amherstburg. In 1831 he reported to the Government " My
population amounts to nearly 40,000 souls." After visiting his native
land he died in 1853. Let us hope that Robert Barr will do full justice
to this unique character — this old Irish Bachelor who was a father to
his thousands of old country settlers, and who served his country
faithfully during the troublous times of 1812-14. I have not time or
space to deal at greater length with this interesting man, but must
refer you to the sketch of his life by Ermatinger and also to Mrs.
Jameson's very entertaining account of her six days' visit to his home
in July 1837. You will find it in vol. II of her " Winter Studies and
Summer Rambles in Canada " published in London in 1838.

The growth of the population may be seen from the following :

1784 ... . about .... 10,000 1848 ... . about . . 726,000

1812 " ....75,000 1851.... " ..952,000

1824.... " ...157,000 1861 " ..1,400,00ft

1841.... " ...500,000

From 1825 to 1850 was " the growing time " in Upper Canada

it was then that the great streams of people poured in from England,
Scotland and Ireland. I shall not discuss the causes* — the stagnation
of British manufacturing industries, the failure of crops, the cholera
scourge, the grtot social unrest, the desire for the possession of homes,
and the free grant land policy of the Government. The front town-
ships along the St. Lawrence and along Lakes Ontario and Erie were
already settled but the rear townships were now open — the Queen's
Bush was ready and thousands of English, Irish and Scottish settlers
came in a steady stream up the St. Lawrence to Quebec and Montreal
and found their way to the upper province by way of the upper St.
Lawrence or the lately constructed Rideau Canal. These settlers filled
up the townships to the north and west of the frontier townships,
occupied by the earlier pioneers. Another series of stories is now to
be told and the stories are not dry and uninteresting.

Have you not read of how the last chief of the McNabs fled from
his creditors and escaped to America in 1825 and set up his feudal
system in his own township near Ottawa ? Here is an extract from
a paper lately read before the Ottawa Women's Historical Society :

♦See paper by A. F. Hunter, M. A., on ** British Immigration into Upper
Canada, 1826-1837," pp. 97-101 of this report. ^^



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134 ONTARIO BUREAU OF INDUSTRIES.



" An order-in-council gave him control of the township next to
Fitzroy for the purpose of forming a settlement, and granted to him-
self 1,200 acres, to be increased on completion of settlement and on
arrival of settlers. They were summoned before the Chief and
informed of the nature of his titles and his position as their Chief, and
Head and Lord of the township. They were required to sign a very
remarkable document called a location ticket which ran thus :

" I, Archibald Macnab, of Macnab, do hereby locate you, J

C , upon the rear half of the sixteenth lot of the eleventh conces-
sion of Macnab, upon the following terms and conditions, that is to
say : I hereby bind myself, my heirs and successors to give you the
said land free of any quit rent for three years from this date, as also
to procure you a patent for the same at your expense, upon your hav-
ing done the settlement duties and your granting me as a mortgage
upon said land, that you will yearly thereafter pay to me, my heirs
and successors for ever, one bushel of wheat or Indian corn or oats of
like value for every cleared acre upon the said land in name of Quit
Rent for the same in the month of January in each year. Your sub-
scribing to these conditions being binding upon you to fulfil the terms
thereof.

Signed and sealed by us at Kennell Lodge this day of ,18

Signed Archibald Macnab.
Signed J C .

" Here we have feudalism in the nineteenth century, in the shape
of a perpetual Quit Rent.

" In 1830, after years of extortion on the part of the chief and
intolerable burdens on the part of the settlers, a struggle for freedom
began which lasted for sixteen years, and eventually ended in the
defeat of the chief and in the establishment of the rights of the set-
tlers. * The Macnab ' left the scene of his despotism, ahd after various
wanderings settled in France, living in obscurity and poverty until he
died, a very old man "*

Is there not some material for romance in this brief tale ?

Have you not read of Peter Robinson bringing out the Irish
emmigrants, landing them on the lakeshore at Cobourg and taking
them overland around the end of Rice Lake to form a settlement in
Peterboro county and to found a town that still preserves his memory
in its name ? The original record of this pilgrimage from the Emerald
Tsle has lately passed into the possession of the Peterboro Historical
Society, and if its pages could speak there would be some romance, for
those settlers would belie their native land if they did not afford some
material for romance.



In The Mmdrecd Daily Witness, April 17th and April 24th, 1897, will be found
A fnll rep')rtof a very interesting address by Mr. James Craig, of Renfrew, Ont.,
delivered before the Caledonian Society of Montreal, entitled " The Last of BKs
Line, ** a graphic sketch of The McNab.



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THE ROMANCE OF ONTARIO. 135



The stream of Irish immigration was broad and deep — it was fed
from the Protestant Counties of the North and the Roman Catholic
Counties of the South, and, though the two classes settled at first in
separate groups in various parts of the Province, there has been a
mingling of Irish blood with that from other sources until now it is
disseminated through all parte of Ontario. The son of Erin loved the
old land and Thomas D arcy McGee voiced his feeling :

*' Where'er I turned, some emblem still

Roused consciousness upon my track,
Some hill was like an Irish hill

Some wild bird's whistle called me back ;
A sea-bound ship bore oflf my peace

Between its white, co»d wings of woe ;
Oh, if I had but wings like these,

Where my peace went, I too would go."

Perhaps some Canadian of Celtic stock will set us all a singing
songs of our own land that will never die.

'/^3«*i. Going further west we come to Guelph, and Stratford, and
Goderich. the three towns of the Canada Company. You have read
^' In the Days of the Canada Company." If not, you should read it
and you will find in the story of John Gait, and Dr. Dunlop, and
Major Strickland, and many others, and in the Paisley weavers
turned farmers, no little humor and romance that will appeal to all,
especially to those in whom some Scottish blood moves and thrills.
"Tiger Dunlop " is a character as unique as Talbot and his old friends
still live to recall his oddity and his humor. •

Will you allow me time briefly to repeat a storjr within this
story, and I give it as lately narrated by one of the survivors, the well
known postmaster of Guelph, Mr. David Stirton.*

The emigration from Scotland was principally from the ports on
the west coast A colonization scheme was advertised throughout the
Eastern shires and in the year 1825 a boat set sail from the Bay of
Cromarty wi^h a band of emigrants for America, bound for the
wonderful States of Colombia (now Venezuela.) The good people
doubtless thought they were going to the United States. Their
geography was faulty or limited. They were landed however in South
America in the Laguayra district or state, a country devoted largely
to coffee plantations. They soon saw the deception that had been
practised upon them — some found work on the plantations but such
work was suitable only to natives of a warm climate. They wept over
their fate and longed for Auld Scotia, but for a time no help came.
They were in sore distress when at last an English Quaker arrived,
Joseph Lancaster, who is well known as the author of the Lancasterian
system of Education. He became interested in their fate and laid the

♦ See '* Pioneer Days in Wellington " — the reminiscences of Mr. David Stirton,
which appeared in The Chtelph Mercury. The account of the La Guayrians is to be
found in the weekly issue of March 9th, 1899.



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136 ONTARIO BUREAU OF INDUSTRIES.



matter before the Home Government. Some time later a British frigate-
arrived, commanded by the brother of Sir Peregrine Maitland, Governor
of Upper Canada. The rejoicing people went aboard and the boat set
sail for the North. At New York the British Consul met them and
.persuaded 22 families to seek a home in Upper Canada under the
direction of the Canada Company. Here they found a home in Wel-
lington County and settled down to life once more among their fellow
countrymen. Their subsequent troubles, the dispute between Gait and
the Canada Company, and the removal from their first location to-
others — their dispersion — would make another story, that cannot be
told here.

What a fertile field for story and romance does the Ott«;Wa valley
present ! It was the route of the old furtraders and the voyageurs ;
there are stories yet to be written of the old Hudson Bay Traders who
came in from the north, and the Bourgeois of the Northwest Company
who went up from the South to make their homes amongst the trap-
pers of the Great Ontario Northland — a country about which we know
so little, a country yet to be explored by othei-s than the Indians and
the traders. Then who will give us the telling picture of the lumber
camp and the lafts, where life is an unbroken series of adventure,
where rollicking sport and reckless daring go hand in hand ? The
story of the German settlement about Golden Lake in Renfrew
county that lias pushed in by the back roads, until now it has
almost formed a link between the Ottawa and the front of the pro-
vince, this has yet to be told. The story of McNab I have referred to.
Th*e military settlement near Perth and the opening up of the Rideau
also belong to this Section. And further South in Leeds you can still
hear tales of fights of former years, reviving memories of the faction
fights of the Emerald Isle.

The Detroit and St. Clair river regions are full of interest. There
were located early Jesuit Missions and fur- trading posts. There are
to be found the descendants of the early French settlers and also
some of the French Canadians who left Quebec at the tijne of trouble
in 1837. There are the remains of Selkirk's first unsuccessful attempt
at colonization — the Baldoon Settlement. There are the negro refugees.
Some of the original stock are still left to tell their tale of hardship
and of adventure.

If you sail along the shores of the Bay of Quinte and into King-
ston harbor, you cannot fail to admit that nature at least has provided
her full share of material for romance and story ; but we have said
enough of the Midland pioneers.

If you go to the Lake Simcoe region, the old Huron country, and
visit the sites of the old French forts and the Jesuit Missions and the
Indian Villages and then turn to the pages of the Jesuit Relations,
you will find that Quebec and Acadia do not monopolize the field of
early romance, for here we are on the battle grounds of the old Huron
and Iroquois tribes, on ground made sacred by the suflerings of the



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THE ROMANCE OF ONTARIO. 137



early martyrs, and on the trails of the first French Explorers.
Examine the Morter in the hall below, it is a beautiful piece of work
but see its inscription " Made in the year 1636 " (" Faict Van 1636")
But look up its history and let your imagination have free play and
you will come back to it with increasing interest.

Push your way back over one of the lonely colonization roads of
the back townships, in the border land of the old lumbering regions,
and make your way to the settler's little clearing. The surroundings
are very plain, but there are a few indications of a higher civilization
than you expected. It is, perhaps, the home of an English pensioner,
a retired military oflSicer, or an old sea-going man. He brought out
his family to make a home on free grant lands. He has been disap-
pointed in not realizing his high expectations. You can see unmis-
takable marks of refinement in face and dress and manner, and, if you
can gain the confidence of the man or his faithful wife, you will hear
a story that will reach far into the night.

Some day we shall recognize the romance of the old log house.
Can you look at that well arranged living-room on the ground floor ot
this exhibition without thinking that if those old pieces of furniture
could talk they would tell a story that would interest ? Take a hur-
ried glance at a settlers home of 75 or 100 years ago.

The cooking was done at the big open fire place with the Dutch
oven, and the pots hung on the crane, all of which you can see in the
room below. Fhij food of his table was entirely of his own raising,
and was therefore limit.d in its variety. For many years his clothes
were of deerskin or of homespun, and his winter's cap was of the
same material, his summer hat was of straw, plaited by his own fam-
ily. His logging and hauling were done by oxen. He cut the grain
with sickle, scythe or cradle, and his wife and children followed with
rakes, binding and shocking the grain. He threshed on th^ bam floor
with the cumbersome flail or by the tramping of his horse's feet, and
he winnowed after the manner of bye-gone centuries. He flung a bag
of wheat over the back of his only horse, or he placed it in his canoe,
or perchance he swung it over his own sturdy shoulder and strode off
by the trail to the little mill miles away where it was ground into
flour between stones. The social life of the community was largely


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Online LibraryOntario. Bureau of IndustriesAnnual report of the Bureau of Industries for the Province of ..., Volumes 15-16 → online text (page 23 of 24)